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Is Emotional Dependence Holding You Back? Learn to Be Your Own Person & Thrive

We all can transition from emotional dependence to resourceful, self-regulating people by achieving awareness of these basic steps to emotional independence“She needed a hero, so that’s what she became.” ~ unknown

Are you drawn to people who are kind and self-assured? I am! I love being around people who are comfortable in their own skins and who easily interact with other people. You can tell they love people, but you sense that their happiness isn’t dependent on others but comes from within. They’re the embodiment of someone who has successfully grown from youthful emotional dependent to mature emotional independence.

As we grow and mature, we’re supposed to become resourceful and emotionally self-regulating. The friction between teens and their parents is a classic stage in this growth. We rely on our parents to show us the way. If parents don’t know how to let go or help their children find their wings, the transition from emotional dependence to emotional independence could be delayed or stunted. This may result in fears and anxieties, such as:

  • Fear of failure, judgment, rejection or abandonment.
  • Anxious for approval and validation, aka people pleasing.

Paradoxically, people with emotional dependence are filled with self-doubt, while at the same time being very self-absorbed. They are needy, feel inadequate and are filled with social insecurities. They crave attention in whatever manner they can get it, even if it’s hurtful. They may find themselves in abusive relationships. Without any real evidence, their minds imprison them in an unproductive and unhappy life, because it’s too scary to break away.

There are three main ways that emotional dependence manifests itself. Here are some extreme examples of each:

  1. Emotional dependence in the family. Each member feels that anything outside of the family is a threat. The only safety can be found within the family. Self-confidence is discouraged and destroyed.
  2. Emotional dependence as a couple. The relationship is all-consuming; there is no life or meaning outside of it. Each is helpless without the other. Because they’re so afraid of losing their partner, they develop harmful behavior, like excessive jealousy, which ultimately destroys the relationship.
  3. Emotional dependence in society. Because of an excessive need for recognition and approval, this person does anything to fit in and avoid confrontation. They sacrifice who they really are to keep the status quo.

In each case, the person experiencing emotional dependence accepts self-limiting beliefs as truth. Their fears and anxieties often lead to numbness, resentment, depression, addictions, projections, and a victim mentality. Panic attacks, chronic tiredness, overwhelm, anger issues, antisocial behaviors, broken relationships and unfulfilled dreams are common.

Breaking free from emotional dependence can take years of hard work. Often, people find it beneficial it to enlist the assistance of a professional who sees things objectively. Since this topic is so broad and deep, let’s quickly go through the general steps for achieving emotional independence. You’ll find links to other articles, so you can broaden your search at the level you desire. Be mindful that each step takes a great deal of time and effort. Please be patient and compassionate with yourself.

When you systematically clear away anxieties and fears that create neediness, you can then mindfully make choices that help you take control of your life. Step-by-step you can transform emotional dependence into emotional freedom. What can that look like?

You’re with someone because you want to be with them, not because you need to be. You eat a healthful snack because you choose to nourish your body, rather than mindlessly take whatever comes your way, or worse, punish yourself with junk food. You exercise because it feels good to stretch your muscles and your limits. You resist alcohol or narcotics because you want to feel more alert and engaged in your life’s higher purpose. You manage your emotions and your creativity has room to grow. You like who you are. You live each day fully and joyfully. You have an abundance of energy to reach out and help others. This, in turn, allows you to develop interdependence, a relationship where two people recognize and value the emotional bond they share while maintaining a solid sense of self within their relationship dynamic.

Does that sound like the kind of life you want? Would you like to completely engage your capacity for self-reliance and train your mind to clear away residual layers of emotional dependence? Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). You’ll come to understand yourself better than you ever have before!

Leaders and Coaches — Being Genuine Surpasses Being Perfect Every Day!

Older woman is happy being genuine and authentic“Authenticity requires a certain measure of vulnerability, transparency and integrity.” ~ Janet Louise Stephenson

 Dee wanted more than anything to be a leader at work. She read every personal development book and took night courses to improve her speaking ability. She took weekend seminars to learn coaching techniques. She even did online NLP training, because she knew it would give her a competitive edge. As a team leader, she had all the right moves, but they were too practiced, too polished, too mechanical. In all of her training, she never acquired enough self-confidence to let her own personality shine through, to be vulnerable enough so people could see who she really was. As a result, she wasn’t able to connect with her team. She just hadn’t learned the knack of being genuine.

You and I both know that there’s a huge difference between someone acting like they’re interested and truly being interested. Putting on a show, going through the motions feels manipulative and off-putting. Leaders are far more effective when they are being genuine and can inspire trust and respect through their every-day actions.

If you tend to be defensive or guarded because of past hurts, being genuine can be a real challenge. But you have nothing to lose and everything to gain! Take a look at some of the ways being genuine will enhance the quality of your life

Being genuine means you realize not everyone will like or agree with you and that’s okay. Being popular and getting praise isn’t your motivation — doing your best is!

Being genuine means you know your values and ethics. You’re kind and willing to let others live as they want to live, but they’re not going to shake your convictions.

Being genuine means you have the strength to make unpopular decisions. You trust your gut even when the majority are on a different path.

Being genuine means you’re approachable. People can sense that you’re truly interested in them.

Being genuine means you walk your own path, not someone else’s. You don’t have to pretend to be someone that you’re not, just to please others.

Being genuine means you recognize the good in others and see their strengths. You don’t have to hog the limelight, but you support and give generously of your knowledge and resources so they can excel at what they do best.

Being genuine means you treat everyone with respect no matter who they are. It’s important for you to dignify each person you meet, whether it’s family, friends, co-workers, or the stranger in line in front of you who’s taking “hours” to make their coffee selection at your local coffee shop.

Being genuine means you’re living in harmony with your purpose. This grounds you so you’re not swayed by the latest fad or craze.

Being genuine means keeping your word. You don’t tell people what you think they want to hear. Nor do you promise something, knowing full well you never intend on following through.

Being genuine means you see things for what they are. You don’t sensationalize comments or actions, adding meanings where none were intended. You don’t imagine slights where there are none. You give people the benefit of the doubt. And you positively look to learn from any feedback you receive.

Being genuine means you improve yourself, not try to “fix” someone else. You realize you are the only one who can change you; you’re not waiting for someone else to improve a situation.

Being genuine means you don’t hide or hold back. You’re not afraid of intimacy or connecting deeply with people. Yes, some people might disappoint you. But your life is richer for the good connections that you do make. It’s okay for people to see your vulnerabilities.

Being genuine takes a great deal of self-awareness and self-acceptance. I’ve found that a practice of mindfulness really helps. It leads to confidence that can’t be shaken. And it helps you excel at your chosen endeavors. It grounds you in reality. It lets you enjoy life to the full. It speaks to others and draws them to you.

Sometimes we can’t see ourselves clearly. We can either under-value or over-estimate ourselves. If you’d like some impartial and extremely helpful feedback, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to help you discover hidden strengths you can build upon to achieve the life you desire and deserve.

Healing Toxic Shame to Rekindle Hope, Confidence and Courage

Healing Toxic Shame to Rekindle Hope, Confidence and Courage“Shame is a soul eating emotion.” ~ Carl Gustav Jung

What’s your secret? You know…the thing that causes you such intense shame and embarrassment you just know you’ll die if anyone else finds out! It might be that thing that happened years ago that you can’t ever live down. Or it could be an undefined feeling of failure because authority figures in your past used shame to “discipline” you. Whatever the cause, this kind of toxic shame can be healed.

Toxic shame gnaws at a person. It can consume you and destroy your self-worth and self-confidence. It makes you feel unlovable and unworthy. You become so busy beating yourself up you can’t be fully present in the moment or see the opportunities right in front of you. I appreciate how Brené Brown likens it to a corrosive element like rust or acid:

“Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.”

A milder form of shame isn’t necessarily a problem as it simply informs you that you can learn from the experience at hand. However, toxic shame is insidious and keeps you trapped. Let’s clarify, too, that toxic shame is different from guilt. Guilt arises from a negative evaluation of your behavior, while shame arises from a negative evaluation of you as a person.  Guilt is the feeling of doing wrong, and can motivate you to change your behavior. Shame is the toxic feeling of being wrong leading to the hopeless cry of “Why try?” You end up saying things like:

  • I’m so stupid.
  • I can’t do anything right!
  • I’m always saying or doing the wrong thing. 
  • What’s wrong with me?
  • I’m so fat and ugly. 
  • I can’t go, because I don’t want anyone seeing me like this.
  • I’m such a mess. 
  • I hate myself.

Toxic shame is responsible for worsening anxiety, depression or other mental and emotional disorders. It triggers unhealthy and destructive behaviors, such as anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and drinking, self-harming and cutting.

If you find yourself in a cycle of ruminating and reliving shameful episodes in your life, what can you do to break out of this destructive toxic shame pattern?

  1. Call the bully out! People who shame others are bullies. (Note: You could be bullying yourself with shame-filled, negative self-talk.) No, you don’t have to confront the bullies in your life. Simply reframe their abusive remarks as bullying, not truths. In that way you begin the process of being objective and you can lessen the power that episode has over you.
  1. Expose toxic shame to the light. Shame thrives in secrecy, but can’t survive in the open. If you try to suppress it, it grows. However, if you think or talk about whatever is making you feel ashamed, although painful at first, you’ll soon feel much less ashamed. Just be cautious of who you reveal your shame to. As Brené Brown says, “If we share our shame story with the wrong person, they can easily become one more piece of flying debris in an already dangerous storm.”
  1. Write it out, if you can’t talk about it. Without censoring yourself, let your thoughts flow onto the paper. It’s especially helpful if you write it as if you’re writing a letter to the “shame bully”, although you won’t actually mail it to them. Then put it away in a safe place and go for a walk and review how you make life better for those around you. When you come back, review your written words objectively. More often than not, some of the sting will have eased.
  1. Ramp up your positive emotions. Fill up on gratitude, hope and courage. It will leave little or no room for sadness, fear and disgust, which are the negative emotions that produce shame.
  1. Turn your toxic shame into healthy pride. Focus on the good person that you are and all the good things that you do. If you have trouble seeing good in yourself, ask trusted friends what they most appreciate about you as a person.
  1. Be compassionate with yourself. You are a work in progress. Trust that you will get better at letting go of shame the more you mindfully practice your shame-busting skills.

NLP reframing is a great tool for ridding yourself of toxic shame and rebuilding confidence, hope and courage. It works best when a skilled, caring person helps you. Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to help you add this tool to your life skills toolkit.

Choose Personal Responsibility Over Blaming Others or Taking Offense

Choose Personal Responsibility Over Blaming Others or Taking Offense“The victim mindset dilutes the human potential. By not accepting personal responsibility for our circumstances, we greatly reduce our power to change them.” ~ Steve Maraboli

A husband and wife were driving through an unfamiliar section of the city.  She read the map and told him to turn left or right at the intersections. He faithfully followed her every direction, until finally she wailed, “Now YOU”VE gotten me lost!” True story? Yes. (It wasn’t my honey and me, it was an acquaintance of mine.) It just illustrates that we, as humans, are quick to blame others for the results of our own actions. We take offense instead of taking personal responsibility.

People have become very confused about how to respond to life, because of conflicting messages they’ve received since childhood. For example:

  • It’s common to praise children for everything, which can inflate the ego and instill a mentality of, “I’m entitled. The world owes me”.
  • Parents make excuses for their children and blame the teachers, when the child gets in trouble or under performs.
  • Rather than learning that actions have consequences, many young adults get bailed out of their problems, so they never learn resilience or what their own strengths are.
  • We’re told “you’re entitled to your feelings and to let it all out”, without learning how to responsibly manage those emotions productively.
  • We’re taught to stand up for ourselves and not be doormats. However, by not giving an inch we hear feedback as criticism from which we must defend ourselves.

We’ve lost our sense of humor and take ourselves too seriously. Becoming offended over real and imagined slights has grown into a problem of epidemic proportions. We see evidence of this in the irritation, sarcasm, hostility, resentment, pouting, grudges, rants, rioting, assaults, road rage, “going postal”, school shootings, and even terrorist attacks.

Here are some things people say in order to avoid taking personal responsibility:

“It’s not my fault!” While excusing ourselves, we hold others to an impossibly high standard.

“It’s not fair!” Because we fail to develop gratitude, we compare our life to others and become embittered and perceive the good others experience as a personal grievance.

“It’s his fault!” Shifting blame, when things go wrong, is easy.

“He started it!” When someone slights you, you respond by giving him the cold shoulder. Your own hurtful behavior is okay, because he did it first.

“He’s out to get me!” It’s all about us. We don’t make allowances for others’ good intentions. Instead we cynically search for their “sinister” reason.

If you want inner peace, cultivating the habit of personal responsibility is vital. I love how Iyanla Vanzant puts it:

“One of the greatest challenges in creating a joyful, peaceful and abundant life is taking responsibility for what you do and how you do it. As long as you can blame someone else, be angry with someone else, point a finger at someone else, you are not taking responsibility for your life.” 

Taking personal responsibility for the good and the bad in your life is one of the most empowering things you will ever do. Only then can you shape your future. Consider this: the word responsibility is made up of two words…response and ability. That means you have the ability to mindfully choose your response to whatever happens. As Viktor E. Frankl said,

“Between stimulus and response, there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” 

Taking personal responsibility is a habit you can cultivate over time. It’s like a muscle memory. You do it often enough, it will become automatic. So it’s up to you to decide. What kind of person do you want to be? If taking responsibility is important to you, start with these suggestions…

  • Before responding, honestly ask yourself, “What part did I play in this situation? How did I make it worse? How could I have made it better?”
  • Recognize your own limitations. You’re not perfect, so give yourself some slack and avoid becoming defensive and prickly, when others point out your “faults”. Accept it with grace and humor. And give others some slack too.
  • Sincerely apologize for your actions or your lack of actions.
  • Welcome feedback and learn from it. Even if you think it’s undeserved, you can find something positive in it, if you look hard enough.
  • Look for the good in others and don’t impute wrong motives. If you’re suspicious, respectfully ask them why they said or did something, rather than jumping to negative conclusions.
  • Accept your life, without judgment and resignation, rather than wishing things were different. View today as a starting point from which you can create something better.
  • Let go of the past. You have the choice and the power to change your future.

Sometimes, we don’t even realize that we’re not taking personal responsibility for our actions. If you’d like to enhance your emotional intelligence and communication skills, so you can turn even the most trying situations into positive outcomes, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). You can do this!

What Pushes Your Buttons? How to Manage Your Emotional Triggers

Gain emotional freedom from what pushes your buttons so you feel like this woman doing cartwheels on the beach“Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn’t you – all of the expectations, all of the beliefs – and becoming who you are.” – Rachel Naomi Remen

This time of year can be so stressful. Dark winter days, end of year demands, and celebrations with family who delight in pushing your buttons can all add up to unwanted stress. But it doesn’t have to be that way! You can learn how to understand, manage and take control of what pushes your buttons.

In the English language, there are so many ways to express how people set off your emotional triggers – pushing your buttons, getting your goat, rattling your cage, yanking your chain, throwing you off your game. And therein lies the truth of the whole matter…when you react badly to an event, it is common to blame the event or other person for your emotional reaction. “He makes me mad. She upset me. If that hadn’t happened…I wouldn’t have…”

While it may feel good to blame someone else, you’re cheating yourself of an opportunity to get to know yourself better and to change any behavior that is no longer serving you. When you think about it, this is tremendous. You have the power to turn off all of those buttons or emotional triggers. However, it will take a great deal of mindful effort to discover your untapped pools of inner strength and courage.

Emotional triggers are a manifestation of your own beliefs, feelings or views. That’s why my emotional triggers are different from what pushes your buttons. Yes, I still have some! Common ones revolve around:

  • Disrespecting personal space
  • Insults
  • Threats
  • Lies
  • Correction
  • False accusation
  • Being interrupted
  • Being ignored

We all have emotional triggers. You do and so do the people you encounter. It’s vital to be accepting of this fact. It doesn’t work to expect perfection from ourselves or others.

An emotional trigger is an experience that draws you back into the past and causes old feelings and behaviors to surface. For example, there may have been a time you were required to do something you didn’t want to do, but were forced to do it by an authority figure. Or you may have lacked confidence, so you couldn’t say “No!”  Now when you hear a demand, it triggers an unfavorable emotional response, even if it’s really just a poorly worded request.

How you think of yourself on the inside dictates how you behave and are perceived on the outside. Your unwanted emotional reactions can make you think that you’re weak and hopeless. But that isn’t the case at all!

When your buttons have been pushed and you feel yourself losing control, take a deep breath and mindfully let your mind sort through the event to see what’s really bothering you and what belief you can change to regain your emotional control.

Examine the situation that triggers your emotional reaction. You have three options for dealing with it: change the situation; change how you think and feel about the situation; or remove yourself from the situation.

Maybe you’re not in a position to immediately examine your emotions. What can you do then? Before the day ends, go to a quiet place and reflect on the episode. You might even want to journal about it, to gain the greatest clarity. Don’t edit yourself as you write. Just pour it all out. This will be most revealing. You’ll also have a written record that allows you to track behaviors or habits that you want to change.

When you know you have an emotional trigger, don’t avoid it; challenge yourself and keep trying to manage it. Plan how you’ll respond next time. “If Situation B arises I will do XYZ. This course of action supports my need to have a choice and be appreciated!”

Of course, you’ll want to be loving, kind and patient with yourself as you peel back your emotional layers. It will take time to make adjustments to your beliefs, feelings and values. Work at building a strong foundation of mental energy and physical wellness, as well as a supportive network of people; then you’ll be able to unplug those emotional triggers and turn off what pushes your buttons.

I’d love to be part of your supportive network. It’s one of my life’s pleasures to use Somatic Coaching to help my clients gain emotional freedom and reach their fullest potential in life. Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).

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